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Not sure if your subscribers prefer to receive campaigns about soccer or snooker? Would they hang around if they received updates on country music, over calypso? There are immense benefits to knowing your subscribers’ interests, desired email frequency or even location, two of them being better targeting of your subscribers and less unsubscribes. Plus, in order to reduce email churn, you will want users to be able to update their active email address. Thankfully, you can achieve this and more, simply by using Campaign Monitor’s preference center feature.

Quick jump:

The preference center in a nutshell

Even if you’ve had an existing subscriber list for a while now, collecting preference information and giving subscribers the option of changing their preferences instead of simply unsubscribing is easy, with a little know-how as to how segments work. In an earlier blog post, we discussed how useful segments can be – if you haven’t tried segmenting your lists yet, do give this post a read.

Setting preferences is akin to allowing your subscribers to subscribe and unsubscribe to sub-lists – a subscriber to a widget store newsletter may be interested in Arduinos, but not Faraday cages, and therefore may only want to receive newsletters solely about Arduinos. Having a preference center allows the subscriber to state this:


Another benefit to setting up a preference center is a reduction in email churn, being the number of emails in your list that become inactive as people discard their email addresses. On average, 15-25% of all valid email addresses are discarded each year as people move to a different ISP or change jobs – with a preference center, subscribers can change their subscribed email address without completely unsubscribing from your list.

Setting up the preference center

In this example, we will set up a preference center with the three interest categories above, being ‘Arduinos’, ‘Faraday Cages’ and ‘Gewgaws’.

In your account, click on ‘Manage Subscribers’, then your subscriber list, then click ‘Custom Fields’. Under ‘Edit field’, create a new field with Data Type, “Multiple Options (can select many)’ and enter your desired preferences. Ensure “This field should be visible to recipients when they edit their settings in the preference center” is checked:


Subscribers will now be able to subscribe to these preferences, and you will be able to segment your subscriber list accordingly:


Customizing the preference center

To change the colors, header graphic, message and language of the preference center, click on ‘Client Settings’, then ‘Preference Center’. You can also preview the preference center:


Adding a link to the preference center in your email

Linking to your preference center is as easy as adding the following tags to your email content. When we send your campaign, we’ll convert this into a personalized link for each of your subscribers.

HTML emails<preferences>this will be a link</preferences>

Plain text emails[preferences]

Note that the preference center is only available to subscribers once the campaign is sent – in order to test the preference center link, you will need to send the campaign to subscriber list that includes you as a subscriber.

Editing your subscribe form

When creating a subscribe form, you can also add custom fields so that subscribers can state their preferences when they sign up for your email. In ‘Manage Subscribers’, click on your subscriber list, then, ‘Create a subscribe form’. Check the custom field you wish to add, generate the code and you’re off:


So.. How do I get my subscribers to edit their preferences?

Using our above example, say you wanted to start sending the special-interest newsletters (‘Arduinos’, ‘Gewgaws’…) to your subscribers. Here are some tactics you could try:

For existing subscribers – Consider sending an introductory email, suggesting that your subscribers update their preferences in order to receive more relevant updates on their favorite products. Also remind them that they can change preferences or their subscribed email address at any time. All future emails should contain a link to the preference center.

For new subscribers – In the confirmation, or welcome message, make sure the subscriber is made aware that they can change their preferences, or unsubscribe at any time. It doubly helps if you have already edited your subscribe form to reflect the preferences on offer.


Preference centers are a very powerful addition to any email campaign as they not only encourage subscriber retention, but allow you to profile your subscriber list by interest, gender, or whatever field you please.

If you’ve created a great preference center, or have seen one you like, do tell us about it below. Whether it’s a cool customization or a neat way to segment your lists, we’re always keen to know about the creative ways that designers have used preference centres for everyone’s benefit.

  • Alexander McWilliam

    You know what’s even better than asking people for their preferences? Already knowing their preferences through their ecommerce purchase history! The API opens up fantastic possibilities. It’s just too bad that segmentation still doesn’t allow for “contains” in a text string. Say you wanna comma separate all product SKUs that a customer bought in a text string like “redcar,milkshake,mobilephone,” you can’t segment by “recipients where product_bought contains “milkshake,”.

    Now, as long as you only have a handful of products you can work around this and just create a set of all possible products. But if you sell > 100 SKUs you’re gonna go nuts – and possibly break Campaign Monitor too.

    Such a small snag, so big a damage, so frustrating that CM doesn’t think it’s important.

  • James

    Also… proper date fields so that we can segment based on last order date etc

  • Vince

    If it had a proper ‘date’ field, we could also add their birthday in there?
    I believe this is a feature much requested, so CM could kill 2 birds with one stone :-)

    It also seems from this example for the preference center that you already have the basics in place to add the other most requested feature; surveys and forms??

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    @Alexander – Many thanks for your feedback, I’ll be talking to the API folks about this. It does make sense for customers with a broad inventory like you have described.

    @James @Vince Proper date fields have certainly been a popular request, as have surveys and forms. Although we don’t have any timeline as yet as to when these will be available, they’re definitely on our radar. We’ll keep you posted if these are to be included in future updates.

  • Daniele

    I haven’t understand if the preference center page is a stand alone page or if it is possibile to integrate it in my website like for the submission form.

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hey there Daniele, it isn’t possible to display the preference center as a standalone page at present, however you’re more than welcome to use our API to code up your own preference center for your site. Sorry about this, but it’s something for us to certainly look into at a later date :D

  • Helthon Fuentes

    hello, there is the possibility of the page shows the content in Spanish.
    Web Site demo: http://passarela.updatemyprofile.com/d-mirzr-6356A7F3-hdhtxtju-r


This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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